No one who really knows me would ever accidentally accuse me of being a fan of the band Korn. Being a happy and well-adjusted person who does not really enjoy listening to a lot of screaming (exception: anything by Ministry), their music is not really my bag. But my friend Ray Luzier has been Korn’s drummer for about three years, and it’s been at least that long since I’ve seen Ray, since he lives in LA and I live here in NYC. So when Korn’s new record label, the great Roadrunner Records, invited me to attend a listening party for the band’s upcoming CD: Korn III: Remember Who You Are(in stores July 13, 2010), and I heard that not only would Ray be there but that also the catering would be provided by Dos Caminos (such delicious food they have) I decided I could not miss this opportunity to make the scene.
It turned out to be a good call. Ray and I had a nice reunion with ample quality time to catch up before the music started, and the guacamole from Dos Caminos was just as amazing as I remembered it to be, even if there were a few too many jalapenos thrown into the mix. Also, Korn’s new record, well it’s pretty good. I mean, it’s Korn, so there are not really any surprises: it sounds like Korn, all loud and angry and growly and like bombs exploding in your face. Metal! But I also kind of dug it. You can hear real guitars in there and Ray’s drumming is amazing and very different from his days in the David Lee Roth band, that is for sure. How they get his kick drums to sound like cannons going off I just don’t know. But I guess the biggest surprise of the evening, for me, was getting an eyeful of Korn’s guitarist, who is named James Shaffer but who everyone calls Munky. Nicknames! Let me tell you, dreadlocks or no dreadlocks, the dude is fucking hot. We’re talking Chris Cornell-pre-haircut caliber hotness. I wouldn’t want to have to smell his hair, but I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating crackers. I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to actually say Hello to Munky, but it’s probably for the best since the only thing I could think of to say to him was “You are so good looking.” And nobody wants to hear that.
Dave Lombardo of Slayer is looking very much like comedian Bobcat Goldthwaite on the cover of the September 2006 issue of Modern Drummer Magazine. Inside, on page 150 and continuing for seven glorious, glossy pages you will find my current masterpiece: an in-depth interview with the extraordinary Ray Luzier.
Best known for his nine years as the drummer for wild man David Lee Roth, Ray’s touring and studio experience is as vast as his reputation as an expert a drum clinician is strong. Ray is currently rocking the world as part of LA’s latest Supergroup, Army of Anyone, which also features brothers Robert and Dean Deleo (ex-Stone Temple Pilots) and vocalist Richard Patrick from Filter. I’ve known Ray for years now and I can honestly say that this is not only the best showcase piece on Ray’s talents ever written, but it’s also among my best work for Modern Drummer. The article also features my side bar with studio legend, producer Bob Ezrin. Exciting!
This piece is not online and can only be found on newsstands when the September MD hits the stores in the first week of August. Please check it out.
“Drummers are the martial artists and fire jugglers of music and should be treated with respect.”
As a renowned session and touring drummer, instructor and clinician, drummer Ray Luzier has enjoyed an almost storybook-like career. Playing drums since age seven, Ray grew up on a farm in rural Pennsylvania. After high school, he left home for Los Angeles – with visions of rock stardom in his eyes – to study drums and percussion at LA’s Musicians Institute. Later, Ray paid the bills teaching the hard rock curriculum at MI’s Percussion Institute of Technology. He also realized a childhood dream by playing drums on a dozen albums for the famed Shrapnel Records label. In 1998, Ray’s determination and amazing ability to network landed him behind the drum kit for the David Lee Roth band, a gig he held down for over seven years. The drummer toured the world with Roth while recording and performing with a variety of projects, including the Nixons, ‘80s metal cover band and comedy routine, Metal Shop and his own instrumental group, Hideous Sun Demons.
In 2005, Ray got the break he’d been working towards his entire career when he was asked by brothers Dean and Robert Deleo (ex-Stone Temple Pilots) to join the hard rock supergroup, Army of Anyone – which includes singer Richard Patrick, formerly of Filter. Featuring a sound that mixes Led Zeppelin and Motown with modern industrial rock, Army of Anyone’s highly anticipated, self-titled debut was released this summer amid the biggest music industry buzz since Velvet Revolver hit the scene. Ray talked drums with Metal Edge the night before Army of Anyone took off for a tour of Japan. (Note: Although Korn is Ray’s current gig, this interview was conducted years prior to to him doing that band).
Metal Edge: What players have most influenced your double bass technique, and how do you keep your drumming fresh?
Ray Luzier: My double bass playing is mostly influenced by Terry Bozzio and Deen Castronovo, but Scott Travis from Judas Priest also has a great double bass technique. He’s so amazing and clean. For a long time now, I’ve wanted to be more than just a drummer. I picked up the guitar about seven years ago and it’s allowed me to see a new perspective coming from the guitar player. When I was really young, I couldn’t understand why the producer would say, ‘You shouldn’t play that drum fill’ or ‘that kick drum pattern doesn’t really go with the guitar part.’ Playing guitar has allowed me to see that you can step on the guitar riff if you play a busy drum fill over the top. It’s brought new life to my playing.
Metal Edge: In the David Lee Roth Band you played many of his biggest hits with Van Halen. What was it like playing Alex Van Halen’s classic drum parts?
Ray Luzier: There are signature parts, drum wise, in songs like “Jump” or “Dance the Night Away” – which were huge hits. After the keyboard intro at the beginning of “Jump,” you have that simple fill that everybody air jams to. If you miss that fill you should be knocked off your drum throne (laughs)! There were certain things that I’d emulate from Alex but Dave really let me be myself. Through the years, the songs definitely evolved. I’ve watched live videos of us and it sounds like this new band with Dave, yet we’re complimenting the old stuff while bringing ourselves into the mix as well.
Metal Edge: Army of Anyone is your first experience as a full member of a band and not just a “Hired Gun.” How did you approach your drumming on this record?
Ray Luzier: When I got this gig there were twenty-six songs already written to a drum machine, so I had to really think creatively. Robert and the guys really showed me – beyond the vocal melody – how to think of everyone’s part as a hook. Instead of thinking, ‘what drum part is going to sound good with this?’ I had to ask myself, ‘what’s my hook right here?’ Usually, the bass player wants the drummer to lock in, so the bass drum is right with the bass line. Robert’s not like that. He’d say, ‘Play around me. Find what works for you.’ So it’s like we have four different parts going on with guitar, bass, drums and vocals, but it all seems to work. I’m definitely playing differently these days.
Metal Edge: What were some of the highlights of being in the studio recording the Army of Anyone album?
Ray Luzier: Being in the studio with (producer) Bob Ezrin was a great experience. One of the reasons I started playing drums was because of Destroyer, the KISS album that Bob produced. Just watching the way Dean and Robert work – with the magic of the way they layer guitar tracks, and the way Richard would sing certain parts – was amazing. Dean might suggest that I play a certain fill or someone would say ‘Play one of those crazy things you do right at the end.’ Then I’d play it and they would all just smile and say, ‘That’s it!’ This is definitely some of the best work I’ve ever done and it’s a record that I’m very proud of.
Drums: Orange County Drums & Percussion
Sizes: 22×22″ Kick Drum, 8X10″ and 9X12″ rack toms, 14″ and 16″ Floor toms, 5 1/2″ X 14″ steel/wood snare
Sticks: Pro-Mark 5B Hickory wood tip Ray Luzier signature sticks
This article was originally written for Metal Edge Magazine as part of a monthly column by Gail Worley (under the pen name Jayne Rollins). With the magazines’ dissolution, the article has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.